Category Archives: Oddball

The Salaman

Photo by Mikou0142aj Kou0142odziejczyk on

The Salaman stood inside a half-circle shower stall made of smooth zoo stone and let the water spray upon him. Cliff was in a rubber suit and wearing high rubber boots and he stood outside the stall, his hands gripping a thick green hose that shot out a forceful stream of water. “Raise your arms and let me wash out those pits,” the zookeeper barked at him. He looked down between the Salaman’s legs and nodded with his head. “And make sure to wash that rotten crotch of yours, too. No woman is going to want to go down on that if you’re dirty.”

“How about a fresh bar of soap, comrade?” the Salaman asked in his deep voice.

Cliff scowled. “I gave you a fresh bar last week. How can you possibly use so much god damn soap?”

“Zip it. I like to be clean, you bastard.”

The zookeeper sighed, twisted a valve on the hose and walked off for a moment. When he returned, he unwrapped a fresh bar of soap and tossed it to him. “Here.”

The Salaman snatched it out of the air with one chimp-like hand. “Thanks.” He proceeded to lather up his lean, hairy body to the point he looked like a five-foot, nine-inch pillar of suds. “Have you seen her yet?” he asked through the foam. “Am I going to be glad she was on the menu?”

The zookeeper relaxed his stance some. “She’s a good-looking woman in a tight package if that’s what you mean. But remember, no romance.”

“I know. I’m glad you were able to secure some prey for me. And she is also aware of the stipulations?”

“Of course. We went over all of it with her.”

“No cuddling. No follow-up calls. No relationships whatsoever. And especially down the road when the little rug rats pop out. I don’t like kids; I just like making them.”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Cliff repeated with a certain degree of frustration. “It’s all in the contract.”

“Because you know, I’m not one for love,” the Salaman explained once again. “There can never be love. If it ever turns into love, my life here at the zoo will be over, and I can’t have that. I’d never survive in the world out there. This is my home.”

“Yes, yes, we are all aware,” Cliff said. “The world is no place for an animal such as yourself.”

“Spray me off now,” the Salaman ordered, and Cliff reignited the hose and white suds flowed off the Salaman’s body like lava down the side of a volcanic mountain. Once he was completely free of the suds, he motioned to Cliff to shut off the water. He stood there naked and dripping, waiting for the zookeeper to hand him a large, fluffy, white towel. He dried himself and then wrapped the towel around his waist and stepped into a pair of leather sandals.

“Would you like to go out into your enclosure and look at the sunrise before you hump her?”

“I would like that, Cliff. And I like that you know me so well, all my quirks and my keen interest in things like nature and astronomy.”

“And your films.”

“That reminds me. I think after mating I’d like to watch ‘Taxi Driver’ again.”

“That’s a good one.”

“One of the best.”

“That DeNiro is one hell of an actor.”

The Salaman nodded his head in agreement as they made their way through a heavy metal door to the outside enclosure. “I really do like how much you understand me, Cliff old boy. It’s fulfilling. Like I always say, you’re a good egg.”

“It’s my job. I do my best.”

The metal door closed with a heavy clang behind them. The Salaman looked up and sucked a deep breath from the morning air as they stepped out into it. “You know what my favorite planet is, Cliff?”

He sighed because he knew the joke but played along. “No. What’s your favorite planet?”


“Oh really?”

“What I meant to say is, well, not your anus, her anus,” he clumsily tried to explain. “Oh bother, what the hell am I even talking about?”

“Ass, I think. I’m not certain. Perhaps you’re just a bit worked up as you ready yourself for mounting.”

“Perhaps. I hope I’m not coming down with something. Germs. What horrible things. How about some hand sanitizer?”

Cliff the zookeeper patted himself down in search of the small bottle he always kept with him as the Salaman held out a hand.

“You know, during my days back in the real world, people used to make fun of me for using so much hand sanitizer, but mark my word, Cliff old boy, some day in the future, maybe 20 years or so from now, hand sanitizer is going to be one hot item. I have a sense about such things. I can feel it.”

“Found it. Here you go,” and he squirted a glob of the liquid into the Salaman’s waiting hand. “Now rub vigorously,” Cliff instructed.

“That’s what I plan on telling this hot babe today,” the Salaman said with a devilish grin, his perfect teeth glistening under the dimmed park lights of yellowish morning glory blue and pink.

 “I don’t doubt it,” Cliff said.

“You can leave me now and check to see if she’s ready.”

“Do you think you’ll ever let me warm one of them up? I could really use the practice, and the exercise. Because, you know how it’s been between my wife and I.”

The Salaman clamped a sympathetic hand on the little gray man’s shoulder. “I’m sorry you don’t get any action, Cliff old boy. I truly am. But you must face reality. Look at yourself. You look like Arnold Horshack in the future. The women would run off screaming and where would that leave me?” he asked rhetorically. “With big, aching balls, that’s where.”

In the interior part of the Salaman’s zoo enclosure, there was a separate area off to one side with a luxurious four-poster bed draped with sheer curtains and Cliff had instructed her to wait there for him.

When the Salaman arrived, he moved aside a red drape and entered. He still had the towel wrapped around his waist, but he quickly undid it and it dropped to the floor before her revealing the legendary tool of animalistic penetration. The woman moved to the edge of the bed to get a closer look at him. Her eyes widened.

“Why don’t you take a picture, it will last longer,” he said to her.

The woman was taken back and looked up at him. “I’m not going to end up on that Internet thing, am I?”

“It’s a figure of speech, lady. What bus did you come in on? The one from Ding-A-Ling Town?”

“I was out for my morning run when that man approached me.”

The Salaman stepped over to a video camera perched on a tripod and turned it on. He peered through the lens, aimed it toward the bed, angled it just right, and made a couple of adjustments. “You left us an address to send your souvenir videotape to, right?” he asked.

She crinkled her brow and sighed. “Yes. In discreet packaging?”

“I run a reputable operation. If I say discreet, I mean discreet.”

“Because, god, if my husband ever gets a hold of this.”

“Don’t be dumb and leave it in the VCR, or, for an extra charge, we can provide you with a DVD. Do you have a DVD player?”

“Not yet. We’re thinking about it.”

“You should. Nearly flawless playback. Crisp, clean. I like that.”

“Can we please just get on with the sex? I heard you really know how to bury the seed.”

“You’re not wrong.”

“I hope I’m not. My biological clock is ticking.”

“Do I look like Father Time?”

“I mean, you guarantee it right? That’s what I was told.”

“If you’re not satisfied, come back again until you are. That’s my policy. It’s in the contract. Don’t you know how to read?”

“Yes, I know how to read.”

“Then put down the book and unzip it.”


“Get naked,” he ordered. She shed her remaining clothes and waited.

He walked around the edge of the bed, looking her over. “Did you wash yourself?”


“Because you’re required to wash yourself.”

“I know. I did.”

“Soap and water?”


“Spread yourself and let me see.”


“Do I stutter? I said spread yourself.”

She did as he ordered, and the Salaman closely inspected her. He grunted an approval, cracked his knuckles, and loosened his neck. “Now,” he commanded. “Make like a dog and I’ll give you a bone,” and he quickly moved on her like a jungle beast attacking its prey.

“Well, Cliff, I must say, that was refreshing,” the Salaman said to him as they lounged on lawn chairs inside the enclosure and looked up at the blue sky and a train of clouds. “I really gave it to her… And she took it like a real pro.”

“Congratulations on all your sexual success,” Cliff said halfheartedly.

“O, come on, Cliff. What’s the matter.”

He pointed up to the sky. “Time’s ticking down for me my friend. Just look at it. You can see the world just moving on and moving on and me along with it. My time is almost up. I can feel it in my bones.”

“Ah, knock it off, Cliff. You still got plenty left in you.”

“Do I now?”

“Sure, you do. Just because you’re not banging fresh meat every day… Don’t you have any hobbies?”

“Hobbies? Not really. I come to work. I go home. I watch television with the misses. I eat, drink, sleep. And church on Sundays.”

“Hmm… Say, you seem to have some interest in film. How about the next time I have a breeding session I let you operate the camera?”

Cliff excitedly sat forward. “You would really let me do that!?”

“Sure… You wouldn’t be uncomfortable, would you?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Just don’t try and play with yourself. I don’t need these hot babes running off screaming.”

Cliff scoffed. “Oh, brother. I wouldn’t do that. I’d do a good job. I’d take real pride in it.”

“I’m sure you would, Cliff. I’m sure you would… Hey, it’s a glorious day. Why don’t you go get us two boxes of animal crackers and let’s celebrate… You know, the ones that look like a train and have the white string attached.”

Cliff groaned. “Oh, boy. This is what my life has come to… Fetching animal crackers.”

The Salaman glanced over at him and smiled victoriously. “Yes, Cliff. It is.”

The Celestial Salad Bar (Two)

Photo by Cats Coming on /

Albom Riff handed over the cash for the room at the Robin Hood and took his key. It was a real key, a brass key, attached to a yellow piece of plastic shaped like a diamond and with the room number 9 etched into it. “Thanks,” he said to the woman behind the counter, and to number 9 he went.

He sat on the edge of the bed and looked out the window at the cold, gunmetal, western town with its hints of beauty, isolation, mystery, loneliness. Loneliness. He was lonely. But no one knew it. He thought about Hollywood Helen on Wheels at the J-Bob’s restaurant and wondered if he should call her. He dug out the piece of paper with her number and looked at it. Maybe she could help him figure out why his driver’s license claims he’s a resident of Raton, New Mexico. How can that be? he wondered. “I’ve never been here in my whole entire life,” he whispered aloud to himself.

The room phone suddenly rang, and Albom nearly jumped through the ceiling. It was a clanging, obnoxious ring that broke the pure silence catastrophically. He went to pick up the receiver. “Hello?”

“Did you enjoy the salad bar, Mr. Riff?” The voice was deep and slow, like a dangerous cover up.

“Who is this?”

The line went dead. Albom hung the phone back up. He went to the window and peered out. There was a man standing on the edge of the parking lot. He wore a black jacket and sunglasses. He seemed to be staring right at him, Albom felt. He moved to the door and opened it. The mysterious man had disappeared.

 The phone rang again. Albom rushed to answer. “Hello!”

It was the man with the deep voice once again. “What was your favorite item on the salad bar, Mr. Riff?… The iceberg lettuce perhaps? Do you know what happens to icebergs, Mr. Riff?” He didn’t wait for a reply. “They fall apart when the heat is on.”

The line went dead once again.

Albom marched back to the J-Bob’s, a haunting howl from the bottom belly of the city followed him there. He found Hollywood Helen on Wheels at the salad bar, and she was just standing there still as stone and staring.

He took hold of her wrist, and she suddenly came out of whatever hypnotic state she was in and turned to him with a look of fear and surprise. “What are you doing?” Albom asked her.

“I was… I was looking at the salad bar.”


“It’s part of my job,” she answered. “I must make sure the items are well stocked and appear fresh. It’s very important work.”

“There’s something weird about this salad bar,” Albom said, and he pulled her over to an empty booth and they sat down. “What the hell is going on around here?”

Hollywood Helen on Wheels stared at him with a blank expression. “You just couldn’t wait to see me again, could you?” Then the stiffness of her face came undone and she smiled. “Do you want more salad bar?”

“No. I want to know if you’re fucking with me!”


Albom retrieved his wallet from his pants and pulled out his driver’s license. He slapped it down on the table before her. “Why does my driver’s license say I live here in this town?”

She picked it up and looked at it. Her eyes shifted to Albom for just a moment and then back to the license. “Wait. You live here? I thought you were from somewhere else. You sure did make it seem like you were from somewhere else.”

 “Somewhere else,” he mumbled.


“It’s a song… ‘Everyone I love lives somewhere else.’”

“You’re not making any sense.”

“And someone strange called me at my motel. Twice. And there was a man outside in the parking lot. I think someone’s watching me, following me.”

“Why would anyone do that?”

“I don’t know, but I really believe this all has to do with your god damn salad bar. What else do you know?”

“I don’t know anything. Maybe you’re just crazy. Hollywood Helen on Wheels got up out of the booth. “I have work to do,” she said, and she walked off.

Albom Riff leaned back in the booth for just a moment before his eyes were drawn back to the salad bar in the center of the restaurant. It appeared to glow. He heard Tibetan meditative music in his head. Then a voice repeated the word “Iceberg, iceberg, iceberg…”

Albom quickly got up and rushed over to the salad bar. It glowed delicious before him. He snatched up a white plate and began crazily filling it high with iceberg lettuce from the large clear plastic bowl set in a swamp of crushed ice.

Hollywood Helen on Wheels noticed him from afar and called out to him, “Hey! You have to pay for that.”

He swept an annoyed glance toward her. “Oh, I’ll pay for it. I’ll fucking pay for it!”

Heads turned in the restaurant as joyful cowboy music softly played overhead.

Albom topped his lettuce with croutons, sunflower seeds, bacon bits, some shredded cheese, black olives, pieces of hard-boiled egg. He ladled orange French dressing over the top of his little salad mountain and watched it run down the sides like lava flows down the side of a volcano. He set that plate aside and grabbed a clean one and began to fill that with other salad bar items: Tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, oiled mushrooms, a spiral pasta salad, pickled beets, banana peppers, cottage cheese, cling peaches, gelatin with grapes set inside that looked like monster eyeballs, and finally a clumpy potato salad.

He took both plates back to the empty booth and sat down. He waved a hand in the air to catch the attention of Hollywood Helen on Wheels. “Excuse me miss? Could I get some service over here?”

An exasperated Hollywood Helen on Wheels approached the table with attitude. “Just what the hell is your problem, mister?”

“I don’t have any silverware, or a napkin, or anything to drink.”

She glanced at the two heaping plates of salad bar food. “I sure hope you plan on eating all that. Be a god damn shame to waste all that. That’s enough to feed four people. You should be ashamed of yourself. Pure gluttony.”

Albom pointed at her. “Look, I’m telling you. There’s something about that god damn salad bar that isn’t right… And I’m looking into it. There’s also something not right about this whole town and why I’m here. And I’m looking into that, too.”

Hollywood Helen on Wheels scoffed with a chuckle. “What are you… A salad bar detective?”

Albom Riff laughed out loud. “That’s a good one, baby, but you’re not wrong. Now can I please get some silverware and a Coke.”


This Ludicrous Life

Photo by Edwin Soto on

The electric teeth motorcar humming on a vibe vine in West Hollywoodland and the nails of Dracula scratch at the sides of a red streetcar while people are trying to read, trying to sleep, trying to sip the atmosphere because sometimes things just don’t seem right… Like tonight. He watches the golden oil beads run down the angle of a taut line of plastic thread. A couple of circus freaks are humping beneath the gloss of a red tent. The moon keeps dripping. The humans keep dripping. The alligator boy is eating a sandwich at the pop-up lunch counter.

The oil bead watcher carries a mockup of the moon in his hand as he walks the dusty midway. The carnival has all but closed, a few green and gold lights flicker, a man dressed as a sad clown pushes a broom. The humpers bellow on the release. A short man comes tumbling out of the slit, struggling to pull up his pants, chomping a fat brown cigar. It’s all ludicrous. The world is set to ludicrous speed.

The oil bead watcher takes off down a lonely dirt road toward the town. He waves a hand over the mockup of the moon, and it starts to glow blue. The humping short man goes running past. He’s trying to attain ludicrous speed… But he’s just ludicrous.

The oil bead watcher’s name is Krumble Conway. He was brought forth by the loins of a carnie or two or three. No one really knows. He was raised by psychotic wolves. He doesn’t mind the name because it helps him remain authentic. He tried magic and trapeze tricks and juggling and clowning and mind reading… But he was never good at any of it. The only thing he was good at was operating the rides and communing with the moon. Some of the other carnies nicknamed him “Werewolf.” But he has little to no body hair, the hair on his head is short and knobby, he keeps his face clean shaven. His favorite soap is Irish Spring because it gives him a sense of clean escape.

 As he walks along the lonely dirt road toward the town of Apple City, he feels like swallowing a table saw. The humping short man comes running back toward him at full speed. As he swooshes by, he cries out, “I need more of that delicious woman!” He vanishes into the darkness, an invisible dust cloud heading toward a gallery of carnival lights strung out in the distance. Red, blue, yellow, purple, amethyst, emerald, diamond…

When Krumble Conway reaches a suburban neighborhood on the edge of Apple City, where all the houses look like apples, apples with windows and doors and yards and lights and cars in the driveway… He goes up to one of those apple houses and peers in the window like a creep. It looks like the family is all gathered around watching a movie with a big bowl of popcorn and a scattering of soda cans. It must be a comedy because they all burst out laughing at the same time. Same. They all look the same. Pale white skin. Blonde hair. Most likely they all have black eyes.

Krumble Conway decides he wants to play a trick on them because playing tricks is another thing he enjoys doing and is relatively good at. He sneaks toward the front door, lifts a fist, begins banging. He runs and scrambles into a nearby cluster of neatly trimmed bushes. He has a perfect view of the front door. It opens. A tall man in a bathrobe is looking for someone who’s not there. “Hello!” he calls out. “Is someone there!?”

He gives up. Goes back inside. Closes the door.

Krumble Conway the trickster goes back up to the house and once again pounds on the door. A porch light comes on and illuminates the yard. The door swings open again. “If you don’t stop, I’ll call the police!” the tall man in the bathrobe yells. He slams the door. The porch light stays on.

Krumble Conway waits a while. He lies down in someone else’s yard and looks up at the night sky. He wants to count the stars, but he knows he’ll be dead before he even gets close to counting them all. He thinks he just has a bunch of stupid ideas. He starts to realize he doesn’t know what to do with his life. He wishes a woman would sit on him. He doesn’t want to go back to the carnival but that’s where he lives, it’s all he knows. But then again… An idea.

He goes back to the house and climbs in through an unlocked window. A very small lamp casts a glow about the small room. There’s a bed. Someone is sleeping in it. He quietly moves closer and looks. It’s a scarecrow dressed in farm clothes and with yellow straw for hair and guts. It’s somehow breathing. It must be dreaming of rainbows and fire. The scarecrow’s eyes suddenly pop open. The mouth moves to form words. “What are you doing here?”

Krumble jumps back. “You’re alive!”

“Shhhhhhhhhhhhh… You’ll wake the people. They are very weird people.”

“They must be if they let a scarecrow sleep in their house.”

“I’m a summer lodger. I work in the fields.”

“I work for the carnival. I’m a ride operator… Doesn’t that sound boring?”

“Not any more boring than being a field worker.”

“My name’s Krumble Conway, by the way.”

“Scott Scarecrow. Good to know you… But I think you should leave before they find out you broke in. Why did you break in?”

“I guess because I’m just full of mischief.”

“Don’t you know blind mischief can get you killed?”

Krumble shrugs. “I’m not sure I really even care about that.”

“Sounds like someone’s got a case of the Mondays,” Scott the Scarecrow says with a funny chuckle.

“It’s Friday, dumb ass.”

They then both hear the sounds of animalistic mating coming from another room.

“Oh boy.” Scott Scarecrow groans. “They’re at it again… Every single damn night they do this. I have to get up early for work. Just look at these dark circles under my eyes. These people are killing me with all their damn sex.”

Krumble snaps his fingers. “Hey, I got a great idea. Why don’t you come with me back to the carnival.”


“Yes, really. I’m sure I could get you a job…”

And the door bursts open and there stands a fat teen with bulbous hair and a shotgun in his hands, and he just starts blasting indiscriminately and he’s screaming, “This is for Waco!”

Krumble feels the slugs fill his guts and he senses himself sliding down, down, down, and soon his face is against the floor, and he looks up and sees tufts of straw floating through the air, and it isn’t long before Scott Scarecrow is lying on the floor beside him, the life draining out of his eyes.

Krumble coughs. There’ spittle and blood. He looks at his short-lived friend. “I’m sorry about this Scott. I’m afraid it’s all my fault.” He coughs and there’s more pink spittle. “Everything that goes wrong in the world seems to be my fault. I should have never come in here. Go to Oz and rest in peace.”

The next day Krumble Conway gets out of his silver drawer at the Apple City morgue and walks outside. The sun is shining, and the birds are singing, and he finds the lonely dirt road and walks back to the carnival just as they are loading up to move onto the next town. He thinks about the moon and smiles.


The Liquid Lust of an Ordinary Day (1)

Liquid Pablo Pablum stood in the aisle of a warm CVS store in Lucifer, Colorado and stared at a shapely bottle of Scope mouthwash. The liquid was such a mystical green color, a leprechaun on acid green. Liquid Pablo Pablum liked colorful liquids and so took the name he had without any sort of official court decree. He wasn’t one to be ruled by the rules of ordinary men he had never met. He was an independent nation. He was a rebel.

Liquid Pablo Pablum had been standing there mostly motionless, dreams and desires spinning in his head, for nearly 37 minutes when a middle-aged woman with a red vest approached him to see if he was shoplifting or just crazy. “May I help you, sir?” She looked as if life had been brutally tough on her.

Liquid Pablo Pablum turned his head slowly and looked at the human roughage. Her nametag read Rose. She didn’t look like a Rose, he thought. She looked more like a tattered chrysanthemum. “I’m just trying to decide on some mouthwash. What would you recommend?”

Rose scrunched her soft-as-a-Colorado-cloud face. She had mauve goose lips, the top one nearly touching the tip of her nose. Liquid Pablo Pablum wanted to pick her up and throw her into the sky to see if she could fly. Her hair was the color of a lazy orangutan drinking hot cocoa from a Christmas mug, and the hair jingled soundlessly as natural ringlets bounced against the tops of her shoulders.

She fitted reading glasses over her dragon-green eyes and looked over the massive selection of mouthwash that was neatly arranged on the shelves, plastic soldiers of oral sanitizer, cake hole cleaner. “I suppose it depends on your personal needs,” Rose said. “Are you looking for something that simply freshens the breath… Or are you interested in dental hygiene? You know, the never-ending battle against tartar and plaque and gingivitis.”

Liquid Pablo Pablum put his pointer finger to his chin and went “Hmmm… What I really want is something for kissing. I want to cram my tongue into a woman’s mouth without the fear of being gross.”

Rose took a step back, cleared her throat, touched her hair. “Oh,” she stammered. “Then perhaps what you need is Close-Up.” She reached down and grabbed a plastic bottle of liquid lava mouthwash and showed it to him. “Look right there on the label. There’s a picture of a couple about to kiss.”

Liquid Pablo Pablum quickly snatched it out of her hand. He greedily looked it over. “Damn. That looks hot. Perfect to me.” He suddenly tore off the protective plastic around the cap, opened the bottle and took a big swig.

“But, sir,” Rose began. “You can’t do that in the store. You must pay for it first.”

Liquid Pablo Pablum paid her no attention as he swished. He then spit the liquid out onto the floor and leaned into Rose the CVS clerk’s face and kissed her right on the mouth. Once their lips parted, Liquid Pablo Pablum gleamed and said, “Well, what do you think? Does it work as well as they portray it does?”

Rose nearly lost her balance. She had to straighten the glasses on her face. She looked at him intently for a moment, and then she rushed off toward the back of the store. There may have been crying.

Liquid Pablo Pablum sat in his car listening to alternative rock music from the late 90s. It was currently something by the band LIVE. Something about dolphins crying. He watched the doorway of the CVS store for signs of Rose. He had already been there for two hours. “Shit,” he said aloud. “Does this lady ever get a break?”

Then it dawned on him that being an employee, she might park her car at the back of the store and therefore could exit the building from its rear. He started his engine and crawled the car around to the back of the CVS. Lo and behold, there was Rose standing outside near the loading dock smoking a cigarette and slurping on a can of soda pop. Her eyes widened when she saw him. Liquid Pablo Pablum rolled down the driver-side window. “Hey there,” he called out to her. “What time do you get off?”

Rose exhaled. She was afraid to approach the car, but she did it anyway. “Is there something else I can help you with, sir?”

Liquid Pablo Pablum smiled his best smile. “I wanted to know what time you get off work.”

“Why?” She turned her head to the side, exhaled her last puff and tossed the cigarette.

“I thought you might want to do some more kissing. I really enjoyed it. Did you enjoy it?”

“I think maybe you should just go home,” Rose suggested. “I don’t want to have to call the police.”

“Police? Jesus, Rose. I just want to make out with you.”

“I don’t even know you. And what we did inside… That was just wrong. I could get fired.”

Liquid Pablo Pablum reached over into the passenger seat and lifted the bottle of Close-Up mouthwash and showed it to her. “I’ve got plenty. We can share it.”

“Oh please, sir. This is becoming absurd.” Rose started to walk away.

“Wait. Don’t you want to swish some of this delicious cinnamon-flavored mouthwash after your cigarette?”

Rose stopped and turned to look back at him. He wasn’t bad, she thought. He was maybe about 20 years younger, dark hair, a warm Latino sheen, soft eyes the color of newly born mud after a warm rain in the desert. Her heart skipped a beat and her insides felt like golden-yellow butter melted by a microwave. She approached the car and held out her arm. Liquid Pablo Pablum placed the bottle in her hand. She uncapped it, took a shot, and swished furiously. She spit the red liquid onto the ground. She looked at him, waiting for a prompt.

“Come here,” he said softly. She moved closer. He reached out his hand to touch the side of her face. “Give me some sugar,” he said. She pressed her face to his and their lips tangled for several seconds. There was an audible smack when they pulled away from each other.   

He grinned.

She smiled. She blushed. She fidgeted. “I should really get back to work,” Rose said.

“Okay,” Liquid Pablo Pablum said. “Do you want to get together later? Maybe share some more mouthwash?”

Rose smiled. She couldn’t help it. “How? Where?”

“I’ll pick you up when you’re done with your shift. We’ll go have some fun.”

“I’m off at 6,” she said.

“I’ll be here at 5:59 then,” Liquid Pablo Pablum said with a charming smile. He backed the car away from her and drove off.


The Gravy Canoe of Wild Wyoming – 2

Entering Wyoming sign.

The dining of the great meal took place casually in chairs and on a soft sofa in the living room at the home of Veronica Eyes in Berlin, Wyoming. Plates and beverages rested on a coffee table; some people stood while they ate and drank. There was the murmur of blended conversations. There was light laughing.

Steel Brandenburg III sat in a chair in a corner beneath a tall reading lamp with a red velvet shade. He was quiet. He was alone among the people. He watched the others eat, trying to decipher if they liked the store-bought gravy. He braced himself for bitter reactions. Everyone acted as if he wasn’t even there as he raised fork to mouth repetitively. He was a ghost, someone looking in from the other side. He had to break the barrier.

“Are you all enjoying the gravy!?” Steel suddenly blurted out. The others stopped talking for a moment and looked at him. One guy named Craig, who was a real jerk, said, “What’s with the gravy, man? Why are you always about the gravy?”

Steel cleared his throat and looked around at everyone as they awaited his answer. “I… I just want everyone to get the most out of their meal. Gravy’s wonderful for that. It adds flavor and richness to our food.”

Craig the jerk busted out laughing. The others followed suit, even Veronica Eyes.

“Whaaat!?” Craig said with a disbelieving laugh. “That’s like the gayest thing I ever heard anyone say.”

He moved closer to Steel and looked down at him. Craig Nusmerg was a tall buffoon with an odd-shaped body, something resembling a bosc pear. People say the heavy drinking has caused his body to morph and turn him into the strange being he now was.

Craig Nusmerg had been a high school basketball star and nothing much more since. He worked the presses of the local newspaper for the last ten years and always smelled of ink and grease. He was divorced and lived alone in a rectangular can at the local trailer park. Now he was towering over Steel like an over-ripened Godzilla.

Steel looked up at him and shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry. That’s how I feel.”

“Why are you here anyways?” Craig wanted to know. “Nobody gives two shits about the stupid gravy.”

Steel glared at him. “That’s not true. I’m sure plenty of people here are enjoying the gravy.”

Craig scoffed and shook his head. His eyes then caught the white gravy boat sitting on the coffee table and he went to pick it up. “You like gravy so much,” Craig said to Steel as he carried it toward him, “Here you go. Have some gravy.” He tipped the gravy boat, and a thick stream of warm brown gravy came pouring out right on top of Steel’s head. Craig kept pouring and pouring, snickering with delight, until the entire gravy boat was empty. Steel just sat there and let him do it. He let him do it all the way. He just stayed in the chair as the gravy dripped from his hair, down his face, and into his lap.

“God damn it, Craig!” Veronica cried out. “You got gravy all over my favorite chair!”

Craig just laughed, went to grab more beer from the refrigerator, and slipped out onto the back patio.

Veronica ran to get some towels. When she got back, she started mopping up as much of the gravy as she could. She handed a towel to Steel. “You better wipe your face off,” she said. “You look like some horrible creature.”

“Do you think I could use your shower,” Steel asked her with gravy spattering out of his mouth as he spoke.

Veronica was aghast by such a request. “My shower? Oh, no. No, no, no. Let’s just get you out into the yard and hose you off.”

Veronica led Steel out the front of the house and had him stand in the small yard of grass. She went to the water spigot and cranked it on as she leveled the hose. She aimed the nozzle at Steel and began to spray him off. “Close your eyes and your mouth, Steel,” she told him as she worked. “I don’t want to rupture your pupils or break your teeth.” But then again, maybe she did.

It wasn’t long before the real Steel emerged from beneath the slick of gravy. She had him turn around and hold his arms out to his sides. “That’s good,” she said. “I need to get you nice and clean before we send you home.”

“Home?” Steel asked without turning to look at her. “You want me to go home? Why don’t you send that fuck-off Craig Nusmerg home? He’s the jerk. He’s the one who started this whole thing.”

Veronica sighed as she sprayed. “You weren’t even supposed to be here.”

“Right. You lied to me. Why did you lie to me?”

“Because I just knew something weird like this would happen. Weird things always happen when you’re around, Steel. You’re a weird magnet. You’re… You’re just completely weird. I didn’t want you ruining my party.”

Steel turned and stepped back from the spray of water. “Sure. Sure. I get it. Sorry to trouble you.” He walked off, soaking wet, and moved down the street toward where his pickup was parked. He got in it and sped off.

The moon was full and bright, and the landscape illuminated. Steel Brandenburg III drove his white pickup like a cowboy even though he was nothing like a cowboy. He went out to a place called Silver Lake and parked within the bones of the trees near the shore. That same moon that had chased him from the city was still there in the sky, looking down, watching him.

He got out of the truck and went closer to the water. It looked like a mirror with the way the light was shining down on it. He craned his neck upward to look at the ivory disk in the sky and then he just started to scream like an animal. He screamed and screamed until his throat hurt. A herd of deer shuddered through the surrounding brush. He fell to his knees and bowed his head in irreverent prayer, mocking a God who never saw him or cared for him.

He got back up and stumbled to the truck to retrieve his phone. He pressed the button for Veronica Eyes. He breathed as he waited.

“Hello? What is it, Steel? Why are you calling?”

“I just wanted to know if you have ever heard of a symbolic revenge tale?”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You should be aware that the silly little actions of you and your friends could have serious consequences.”

“What? Have you been drinking? Where are you?”

“Stop asking me questions, Veronica. Just stop. But be prepared.” He ended the call. He looked around at the wilds. The treetops suddenly bent in a gust of wind. Something snapped and fell nearby.


Visit for the previous part of this story… And many more strange tales.

Tecumah (End)

For Tecumah. A creepy doll face.

I drove over to Tecumah’s earthen home to see if I could score some devil’s lettuce off him, but he wasn’t there. I tooled around Taos for a bit, got some lunch at a restaurant made from a huge clay pot, went to a bookstore that was like a barn, and then paid homage to D.H. Lawrence’s ashes in the hills.

After that, I picked up two big bottles of wicked agave tequila and then headed back over to Javlin’s place for the party. I was a bit nervous, as I usually am when about to meet new people and took a few big schlucks of the mad drink I had bought before going to the door of the now shuttered gallery.

I knocked and Javlin came bounding forth out of the shadows like a creepy criminal. He was wearing a dress and he had put his hair in pigtails and had white, powdery makeup all over his face.

“Thom! Thom!” he exclaimed. “You have arrived, and I couldn’t be happier! Please, come in.” And he twirled around like a dancer high on life.

I stepped inside, dazed, and confused. It seemed quiet and void of people. “So, where’s the party?” I asked.

“Upstairs Thom. Everyone is upstairs and we’ve been waiting for you! This is so exciting!”

I followed Javlin up the narrow staircase, having to look at his pale, stubbly legs jutting out from the bottom of the dress as we ascended.

“Here we are then!” And Javlin spread his arms wide and had a huge grin on his face.

“Is this some kind of joke?” I thought to myself as I looked about the apartment above the gallery where he lived. There was a round table set in the middle and around the table were five chairs. Two of the chairs were empty, but in the other chairs sat three dolls, all with cracked, odd faces and dressed in torn doll clothing.

“What the hell is this?” I asked Javlin in all seriousness.

His smile suddenly drooped. “It’s a tea party, Thom, and you’re the guest of honor. Don’t you like it?”

“It’s weird, man.”

“Nonsense! Let me introduce you to everyone.”

He grabbed me by the arm and took me around the table to show off each doll.

“Okay, this little guy is Javlicious, this sweetie pie is Javlene and this adorable one is Javsie… Well come on Thom, don’t be rude. Say hello.”

I opened my mouth, but I couldn’t believe it. “Hello,” I embarrassingly muttered.

“Well,” Javlin began, prancing about the table, “Now that everyone knows each other, let’s sit down and have some tea and talk about shit. Oh, and I made some cookies… Now, now Javlene, don’t hog all the cookies!”

I looked at the dolls. They made absolutely no effort to move, to speak… To be alive.

“You can sit here, Thom,” Javlin said, and he pulled out a small chair from the table.

“That’s a small chair. I’m afraid I might break it.”

“It may be a small chair, but it’s mighty powerful,” and then he yelled “Yee Ha!” as loud as he could.

“I think you need a doctor, Javlin,” I told him. “I think you’re mentally ill.”

“What are you talking about, Thom? I’m just trying to have a little fun. Why do you always have to be such a stick in the mud? Don’t be a party pooper. No one enjoys the company of a party pooper.”

“It’s just… You have to admit, this is all pretty bizarre, even for you. I mean, the dress, the hair, the dolls… They’re so creepy.”

He looked at me as if he wanted to kill me. “You apologize, Thom! Apologize right now!”

“No. This is stupid. I’m leaving.”

I turned to walk away and that’s when Javlin’s big hand came down on my shoulder and he shoved me into one of the small chairs. “You’re being quite rude, Thom, and I don’t like it! Now apologize to my friends so that we can get on with the evening!”

I looked around at the bizarre, lifeless dolls. Javlin was breathing heavy and twirling his hair with his club-like fingers. He glared at me with crazy, swirling eyes. “Apologize!”

“Okay, okay. I’m sorry everyone. I sincerely apologize.”

“Excellent,” Javlin said. “Now we can get on with the festivities.”

Javlin sat down and then reached for the big, plastic tea pot in the middle of the table. He gingerly poured pretend tea into everyone’s cup.

I looked down into my empty teacup. “There’s nothing in here,” I said.

Javlin slammed his big fist on the table, and everything shook. “Damn it, Thom! Haven’t you ever attended a tea party? You have to use your imagination.”

I watched as Javlin lifted his teacup, extended his pinky finger, and sipped at the pretend tea. “Ouch,” he squealed and then giggled. “That’s hot shit.”

I looked over at the dolls and they remained immobile and lifeless in their seats.

“They’re not drinking theirs,” I said to Javlin. “Why do I have to drink mine?”

“Jesus, Thom, quit being such a tool… And yes, they are drinking their tea and eating the cookies.”

“I brought some good tequila, Javlin. You were always fond of a good tequila glow. Can’t we drink that?”

“No, Thom, they’re minors, they can’t drink alcohol. God, are you dumb.”

“Well, they don’t have to drink it, we can just drink it. It will be like old times,” I tried to convince him.

“I refuse to be a bad influence in front of my friends, Thom, but if you want to be all drunk and weird, go ahead I guess.”

I retrieved one of the bottles from my saddlebag and began to drink it down like it was a jug of water.

Javlin looked at me, appalled, as I filled my wishing well of emotions. “You keep drinking like that Thom and you’re going to die.”

“And if you keep playing with dolls, they’re going to lock you up,” I said back to him.

Javlin cupped his ear in the direction of the doll named Javlene. “What’s that? Yes, he is being quite an asshole.”

I set the bottle down on the tea party table. “I’m sorry, Javlin, but I just can’t do this anymore. I think I’m going to leave.”

“You can’t leave,” the three dolls said in unison. “The party is just starting. We’re going to have lots of fun.”

I tried to shake the bad mojo out of my head. “What? Did they just talk?”

“Of course, they talked. They’ve been talking to you all night, Thom,” Javlin said to me. “And I must say, you’ve been very rude to them, constantly ignoring them like you have.”

“Let’s kill him,” the doll named Javlicious said. “I’ll kill him myself… With my trusty little brick here.”

“Yes, let’s kill him,” the two other devotchka dolls chimed in. “You should have believed in us. You lack true faith.”

And then they all started chanting together — “Kill him, kill him, throw him out a window.”

And the dolls got out of their seats and started coming toward me, and that’s when I upended the table and went for the stairs, but Javlin stuck out his big foot and tripped me and I went tumbling down.

And then it was the three dolls on top of me pounding away real horrorshow on my body and bones. Small, but powerful tolchocks that I could just not defend. I tried grabbing one by the throat and tossing her aside, but she bit into me hard, and my red blood began to flow.

“Javlin! For God’s sake, please help me!” That’s what I yelled out to him, but he just stood there grinning and chuckling with his mussed pigtails all jutting out to the side and his sloppy face all happily evil and glad that I was being legitimately raped by three porcelain dolls with cracked flesh, and they just kept beating on me and beating on me until I just couldn’t take it anymore and all went dark and then to bright light and then suddenly somewhere else.

Tecumah sat in the passenger seat of my red Ford Probe as I gunned the engine.

“Now remember,” he said. “You have to jump out or you’ll go with it… And then, you’ll be finished too.”

And he made the motion of sliding his finger across his throat to indicate death.

“All right, all right. Let’s do this,” I said.

We lurched forward along the dirt roadway toward the edge of the cliff overlooking the beautiful valley. I stomped on the accelerator.

“Slow down! Slow down!” Tecumah yelled. “You don’t need to go that fast!”

But I ignored him, and then it was Tecumah bailing out the passenger side. I watched him in the rear-view mirror as he tumbled away in the dust and dollops of high desert brush, getting ever further and further away.

And then it was the lip of the cliff and like floating off to Heaven for me, my guts all wobbly and feeling funny as I went over the edge, up for a fraction of a second, and then quickly down, down, down, and I was no longer afraid of dying or anything for that matter. Everything was done. I made as much peace with the world as I could and that’s all I could do. I could do no more. I was tired of trying to gnaw through the bone of Idiotland. I was tired, and I needed a long rest.

And then there was a heavy crash and then fire and then burning, and bright light like royal sun forever.


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Tecumah (2.)

Taos for Tecumah.
Photo by Aaron A. Cinder

And she’s sleeping next to a guy she doesn’t even love… Why?

And I awoke abruptly in Tecumah’s earthen house, thinking of space angels and their precious and pounding red hearts. I hurt like a madman. I just wanted to hold the barrel of life again, feel the touch of its entirety in one big loving gulp, but then again, I was coming down from a mad dream and I ached all over and I thought I saw Tecumah boiling something in a pot.

“Come to the table, sit down. It’s breakfast time,” Tecumah said.

I got up and wobbled over to the table and sat down. He placed a steaming cup of something in front of me along with a bowl of Easter eggs.

“Drink that and eat those,” he said. “It will make you feel better.”

“Easter eggs? But it’s almost Christmas.”

“So what? I like cooking and coloring Easter eggs. It’s my hobby. It calms my nerves.”

“That explains all the chickens running around in your yard then, eh?”

Tecumah looked out the window.

“Yes, I suppose it does.”

I sipped the hot drink and peeled some eggs and ate them with salt.

“Are we still going to drive your piece of shit car off a cliff today?” Tecumah asked in all seriousness.

“No, I better not. I have some things to do today.”

Tecumah huffed.

“That’s too bad, I was looking forward to sending that thing over the edge.”

“I have to drop my painting off at my friend’s gallery. He’ll be waiting for me.”

“All right then. I’ll ride you over to the motel and you can pick up your piece of shit car. But if you want to get wicked again before you leave town, just stop by. I’ll be ready to go.”

The little bell on the door of the gallery went dingy dingy when I went in.

“Welly, welly, welly well! Hooray, for he has finally arrived,” said my longtime friend and “A Clockwork Orange” fanatic Javlin Francis Fitch, jumping up from behind the counter and rushing over to give me a big, rumbling handshake.

“So, this is it then, eh?” he asked, his wide chocolate eyes dancing all over the parcel dangling from my sore fingers.

“Indeed, it is. Vagina Waterfall, as you requested.”

“Well, open it up then will you. I want to see it,” Javlin said impatiently.

I stripped the brown paper off the painting and held it up for him to see.

“Just as I remember!” Javlin said, all happy and insane, his bushy rusted curls bouncing around. “Seems like it was just yesterday I was sitting on your couch in your super hip Nob Hill pad looking up at the wall and admiring this painting while we got baked to oblivion. Those sure were some good times.”

“A lot of good times. So, how do you like Taos then?” I asked.

“It’s pretty hip and super fresh,” Javlin said, lifting the painting up and holding it against a piece of bare white wall. “I’ve made lots of friends. We should all get together before you leave town. I think tonight would be a fine and proper time. Perhaps a tea party. My dolls would just love that.”

“Are you sure you’re okay, Javlin? You seem a bit off.”

He turned quickly and glared at me.

“Off? What do you mean off? Are you saying I’m crazy or something?”

“No, I was just…”

“Because I’m not crazy Thom Hatt! You’re the one who is crazy.” He scoffed as he turned back to the picture. “Seriously. Painting a waterfall that looks like a vagina!?”

“I never intended it to be perceived as a vagina, it’s just a waterfall for Christ’s sake! You came up with the name! And what’s with the big pervert moustache? You’ve never had that before.”

“I’m a creative soul Thom and creative souls have big, bushy moustaches, and it’s not perverted, and if you don’t like it, well, then you can just zip it.”

Javlin went back to placing my painting on the wall and didn’t talk to me for 20 minutes. I strolled around the gallery looking at all the luscious landscape paintings of mountains and canyons and lovely juniper green Earth spirits prancing around in native garb.

“You have some very nice paintings here, Javlin.”

“Why don’t you buy something then?” he said to me in a very uncharacteristic sarcastic tone. “It would be nice if I could at least afford a pot pie to eat.”

“I’m a minimalist, I don’t need things.”

“These aren’t just things, Thom! This is art,” he said as he gestured with his hands and looked around the gallery. “You sure do have a screwed-up head. A minimalist, geez, whatever.”

“I think I’m going to go now. You can do whatever you want with the painting. I hope it sells and you make enough money to buy some pot pies.”

“Well, I hope you plan on staying in town long enough to enjoy them with me. Mmm, I can already smell them baking away in the oven. I’ve really come to love the golden flaky crust, the creamy gravy, the crisp garden-fresh vegetables.”

Warily, I asked. “You’re not involved with that cult again, are you?”

“Cult? What cult?”

“You know what I’m talking about… The Cult of Steamy Goodness. That whole ordeal in that other part of New Mexico. Don’t play dumb.”

He paused, looked at me and then waved a hand in my direction. “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course, I’m not involved again. I just happen to enjoy a good pot pie occasionally. It’s not against the law. Gee whiz, Thom. Give a guy a break.”

“Sorry, Javlin. I didn’t mean to be such an A-Hole. I just know how you can take things to the extreme at times. I don’t want to see you get messed up like that again. It was troubling.”

“You don’t have to worry about me… Our spiritual leader ran off to Montana and got involved with a woman and fly fishing. Eww. Seems he’s just an ordinary fella after all.” And then Javlin suddenly rushed toward a window near the back of the gallery and lifted it open.

“You damn squirrels get the hell out of here!” he yelled. “You come around here again, and I’ll blast your nuts off!”

He slammed the window shut. “Sorry about that. It’s just those damn squirrels get me so upset!”

“Right. The issue with squirrels.”

“Yes, the issue with squirrels. Did you know he’s in jail now.”

“Bumble Bill is in jail?”

“Yes, and they should throw away the key. He was the absolute worst newspaper photographer I ever had the displeasure of working with. I’m so glad to be done with that whole racket.”

“Why is he in jail?”

Javlin laughed out loud. “His atrocious photos!… No. Seems he was kidnapping children and squirrels and forcing them to live together in his basement. He was taking pictures of them as they interacted. He claimed it to be scientific research but obviously no one bought that defense. They didn’t get him for the pictures, just the kidnapping. The children, of course. They didn’t care about the squirrels.”

“Wow. That’s crazy.”

“Crazy does what crazy is… Or something crazy like that,” Javlin said with an offbeat laugh. And then he started to grit his teeth real hard and pull at his long, wild Bob Dylan hair and his face started turning red like he was holding his breath or something and he was starting to sweat, and he was mumbling gibberish to himself. I thought he was having a stroke.

“Javlin! Javlin! Are you all right?”

He let go of his hair and released his breath and soon his face returned to its normal color of pale peach.

“Dude, what the hell? Are you okay?”

“Huh, oh, yeah, I’m fine. Flashbacks. A nervous reaction, I’m afraid. Squirrels. Damn squirrels. The past can be a very haunting thing. But how are you, Thom?”

“I was kind of worried about you there for a bit.”

“Don’t be Thom. I am hip to the extreme, I am as super fresh as can be. You will come back later for the tea party, right, Thom?”

“Yes, I suppose I will come, but maybe you should close up and lie down for a while, take a nap or something. Rest your mind for a bit.”

“That’s a good idea Thom. I think I’ll do that. Thanks for stopping by with the painting. I’m looking forward to visiting with you more.”

To Be Continued…

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